Parliament to discuss culling of chickens, skills training on Monday

A domestic chicken with guinea fowl near Turf City.
A domestic chicken with guinea fowl near Turf City. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - The recent flap over the culling of chickens in Sin Ming is among issues that will be raised in Parliament on Monday (Feb 20), ahead of the unveiling of the annual Budget by Finance Minister Heng Swee Kiat.

Mr Heng is scheduled to start speaking at 3.30 pm.

The question on the culling of 24 free-range chickens last month is being raised by Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC).

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it did it following complaints from residents and public health concerns.

After a public outcry, AVA said the culling was done owing to a bird flu risk.

Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) is one of three MPs who will ask how the authorities handle complaints on wildlife, according to the Order Paper issued by Parliament on Friday (Feb 17).

He wants to know if AVA sets a threshold on the number of complaints before culling animals, and whether it had considered asking people to adopt the chickens or other more humane alternative solutions to the issue.

"I'm hoping AVA does not apply such a standard and is basing its action on scientific reasons.

"We can't have knee-jerk reactions every time there are complaints about animals," said Mr Ng, an animal welfare advocate.

Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) will ask how many bird-related complaints have been received in the past three years, and what is being done to solve the problem of birds feeding on leftover food at hawker centres.

Another concern of MPs is support for Singaporeans to acquire skills through training and further education.

Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh wants to know if the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme could be extended to workers who wish to study for a first or second degree so as to specialise in a different field.

The scheme is for fresh polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education graduates to work and further their studies at the same time, by receiving structured training for qualifications in their field of work.

"There are a number of specialised industries with degree requirements on the rise such as cyber security. It'll be good if there's help for people considering a mid-career switch to these sectors," he said.

ziliang@sph.com.sg